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If Kathryn Immonen had Super Powers...

August 3, 2010 | Margaret

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Thanks to author Kathryn Immonen (Patsy Walker: Hellcat)  for agreeing to give us an insight into the life of a comic book writer!

Word Out! (WO!):  So Kathryn, what did you like most about writing the Patsy Walker Hellcat series?

Kathryn Immonen (KI):  The process of getting to know a character during the course of writing a story is absolutely one of the most satisfying experiences and it's always full of surprises.  I think it was Neil Gaiman who said something about learning to write the book that you're writing.  Characters who you think going into it would get along, really don't seem to.  You turn a corner, literally or figuratively, and there's someone, or something! just waiting for you to get there and get to know them.  I've been such a fan of Patsy Walker from way before she ever became Hellcat and right from her first appearance, she's been full of spirit and fun and sarcasm and confidence.  You couldn't stop her with an army of tanks.  But she will stop for lunch.  Right up my alley!

WO!: Do you have any advice for teens that would like to write comics?

KI: Write comics.  Write stories.  Write.  There's absolutely nothing from stopping anybody from making stuff.  I think for beginning writers, it can be difficult to find artists to collaborate with but there are other ways, too.  There are some really great projects with people using photos of LEGO people.  Also, things like Dinosaur Comics and A Softer World.  Here at Studio Immonen, we were even playing around with the idea of using Polyvore to generate something.  Having said all that, though, it's so important to learn your craft.  Take some writing workshops, get advice (and listen to it!) from people who are working in the medium, even if it's just by reading interviews on line on the subject.  Pay attention!  Write more!  Get better!

WO!: How did YOU get started writing comics?

KI: I started making comics, self publishing, with my husband..well, he's my husband now, before that he was just this guy I really liked...way back when there was a very vibrant market for black and white independent books.  Things have changed a lot, especially with regards to things like distribution, but at the time, we just charged ahead and did our own thing without really knowing what we were doing.  My schooling is actually in set and costume design and, for many years, I designed for film and theatre but always turning out small comic projects when I had an opportunity.  Like with most freelance work, one job leads to another job leads to another job.  It's not really something you can apply for, in the traditional sense.  Even now that I'm basically writing full time for Marvel, and Stuart is drawing full time , it's still so important for both of us to keep doing the projects that are more personal.  Moving Pictures is one of those projects and it just came out from Top Shelf Productions.  It took nearly three years from start to finish.  You have to keep your eye on the finish line.

WO!: What do you like to read?

KI: I like to read a lot!  I have some very favourite authors like Anne Enright, Iain Banks and Paul Theroux.  I tend not to reread books because I feel like everything I rearead is an opportunity lost to read something new.  I would also say that one of the strange things about working in comics is that I have to read so much material for my job that I don't really turn to comics for reading for pleasure, which is a little sad but there are only so many hours in the day.  I also try to do most of my comic reading in French, which is a slightly ridiculous rule but it keeps my brain working.

WO!: Any favourite comics you can recommend.

KI: All of Tintin remains my absolute, total, all-time favourite.  I break my rereading rule with it all the time.  But it really is some of the greatest story telling ever.  But I would say, Grant Morrison's New X-Men, Ann Nocenti's run on Daredevil.  Matt Kindt's Superspy is fantastic and anything by Jim Ottaviani.  I could go on and on.  

WO!: Can you tell us about any projects you are working on or planning?

KI: Stuart and I have started our next graphic novel.  It will be called Russian olive to Red King and it's basically a ghost story with petroglyphs and ancient tunnels, unanswered phone calls, bad dogs, Chekhov and a plane crash.  I've got a small laundry list of projects for Marvel on the go but none of it has been announced yet so I can't talk about it.  And I completely hate when people say that but, unfortunately, it's true.

WO!: Finally, if you were a "Superheroine", what would your powers be?

KI: I used to always answer "invisibility" but I've come to feel that that's sneaky and rather cowardly.  A friend of mine wishes he could shoot soup out of his fingers.  Today I'm going to say...l'esprit de l'escalier except I'd think of the snappy comeback immediately, not when it was too late.  What would you call that? l'esprit de RIGHT NOW.

Thanks so much for your time Kathryn!

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